Story and photos by Manos Angelakis
Hot Spanish Soups
I love soups, especially piping hot in the winter with a crusty piece of baguette, and cold in the summer. As far as I’m concerned, soups are comfort food that I’ve relished since the early 60s when I had my very first apartment, a basement at Onslow Gardens in London and, at the back of the stove, there was always what I used to call “my eternal stew” i.e. a soup with whatever vegetables, bones and scraps of meat I could afford that week. Even friends that came to visit knew to bring either vegetables or chunks of beef or lamb, because the soup needed replenishment every night.
I find Spanish soups to be very compatible with my taste. At a previous issue, we published recipes for cold summer soups, Gazpacho and Ajoblanco.
Now here are hot soups I love to have in the winter.
Porrusalda is a traditional hot Basque comfort soup made with leeks, carrots, potatoes, and onions. Actually, in the Basque language “porrusalda” means leek broth. The soup is flavored with a good amount of garlic and some smokey ground paprika. Dried, salted cod is sometimes added; but either with or without cod it is a traditional, classic Basque dish; the same soup is also very commonly consumed in nearby parts of Spain, such as Castilla y Leon, La Rioja and Navara.
5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
8 leeks, washed thoroughly, use white part only chopped into 1 inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch discs
4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large white onion
7 cups of fresh chicken stock
1 tsp paprika – I use Las Hermanas Pimentón de la Vera, smoked Agridulce
2 tbsp of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Start by sautéing the leeks, onion and garlic in the olive oil. When the onion starts becoming translucent add the carrots and potatoes and continue sautéing for 3 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, paprika, salt and pepper, lower the temperature to low and simmer the soup until all vegetables are soft, at least an hour or longer. Add the finely chopped flat leaf parsley to the soup, a few seconds before serving.
Caldo Verde is a very popular soup in Portugal as well as Spain. The basic ingredients for caldo verde are collard greens, chorizo or chouriço or other type of garlic sausage, potatoes, olive oil, black pepper and salt. Garlic and onion are traditionally added as well.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2/3 lb. chouriço or linguiça or chorizo, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 large Spanish onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 medium potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cups cold water or, preferably, half homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth, and half water
1 lb. kale or collard greens, stems removed, leaves cut into very, very thin slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black or white pepper
Same cooking method as the Porrusalda.
This traditional Galician dish is hearty and nourishing. Although the ingredients vary from one household to the next, this soup is most often prepared with collard greens and/or cabbage, turnips, potatoes, white beans, lard, and preserved pork meat such as chorizo sausage, bacon, or ham.
The dish has humble origins and is mainly associated with Spanish farmers who live off the produce of their own land. Caldo Gallego is typically consumed in colder months because it is always served piping hot. The soup tastes better when reheated the second day.
2 cups Cannellini beans (Judias Blancas)
3 smoked ham hocks scored or bone in smoked ham
1 ½ whole square salt pork
2 Spanish Chorizo sausages
1 lb. pork or beef stew meat (optional)
4 small or 2 big russet potatoes
1 lb. bunch of Swiss Chard or Collard Greens
1 whole onion, minced
1 whole green bell pepper, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato grated or 1 8 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 laurel leaves
2 teaspoon salt, to taste
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In large cast iron pot soak beans and smoked ham hock overnight, at least 12 hours, in lots of water.
Next day, pour out water and rinse beans and ham hock well; in a separate pot boil ham hocks for 30 minutes, drain and rinse to get rid of excess salt.
Combine ham hocks with beans, add the salted pork, add enough water to submerge the meats, bring to a boil, add pork or beef stew meat (if using), cover pot and lower heat to medium/low and simmer for 60 minutes. When done turn off heat and let cool, until you’re ready to add everything else.
Prepare everything else that you'll need, i.e. wash and peel potatoes and cut into large pieces, leave potatoes in cold water where some vinegar or lemon juice has been added so they don't discolor. Wash Swiss Chard or Collard Greens well, remove stems, cut into thin slices and set aside.
Take off the casings of the chorizo and cut into semi-thick slices; set aside along with minced garlic, bell pepper, onions, tomatoes and spices.
When stew has been cooking for 1 hour; turn off until ready for the next step.
Make "sofrito" by heating generous amounts of extra-virgin olive oil on medium heat and add chorizo slices, wait until the chorizo releases some of its fat and infuses the oil. Then add bell peppers and onions and sauté until translucent and caramelized.
Add garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant, add the grated tomato or canned stewed tomato, bring to a boil and add to the stew. Stir well; add ground cumin, laurel leaves, extra-salt if necessary, and potatoes. Bring to a boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in the Swiss Chard or Collard Greens and boil until wilted; turn off heat.
Remove the ham hocks and separate into bite size pieces, so you can add some ham pieces to the stew when serving; or leave whole, and 3 lucky people can have an entire ham hock to themselves.
Pull out salted pork, cut into small chunks, throw it back in the pot or heat a pan on medium and add the salt pork to the pan, cover it, and wait until it renders it's fat. Drain some fat after 10 minutes or so, until the meat is crispy. Set aside and garnish stew with it when serving.
Caldo de Res:
In my area in New Jersey, many supermarkets sell packets of marrow bones. They add fat, collagen and gelatin that give a soup a real substantial flavor that you can’t get when you just use vegetables or commercially made beef stock. I’ve had versions of this soup in France, Spain, Greece, Hungary, Denmark and, using reindeer meat and bones instead of beef, in Finnish Lapland as well!
I’m partial to the Spanish version, known as Caldo de Res, because it is the closest tasting to the beef soup my mother used to make during the winter. She called it “Odessa Borscht” but it had nothing to do with the classic Ukrainian borscht, because it had no beetroot in it.
This easy beef stew is made as a one-pot meal. Use chunked top round or chuck brisket. Please note that stews like this are traditional recipes with many regional variations, like the soup made with reindeer meat and bones I had in Finland. Using typical ingredients like a sweet red or yellow pepper (capsicum), along with smoky sweet Spanish paprika, adds to the flavor. The soup is easy to prepare by chopping and sautéing vegetables and beef chunks, then simmering for a couple of hours. Every Spanish family has their own favorite version using different ingredients. So, you could add your favorite fresh vegetables including peas or green beans.
¾ to 1 lb. beef marrow bones
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, for sautéing
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded, membranes removed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 pounds beef stew meat, cubed
1 cup dry red wine
8 oz. crushed tomatoes
4 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium potatoes, quartered
1 tablespoon paprika – Las Hermanas Pimentón de la Vera, Smoked Dulce
1 bay leaf
1 quart beef broth or water
2 tbsp of cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
Place bones in hot oven and brown for 10 minutes then move to a large stockpot; add water or beef broth to cover by 6 inches. Bring to boil, reduce heat and boil gently for 45 minutes.
Remove the bones from the stock and empty the marrow. Reserve the marrow, keeping it warm.
In frying pan, add extra virgin olive oil at medium-high temperature. When oil starts to shimmer, add beef cubes and brown for 10 minutes, remove to where the marrow is reserved, then add chopped vegetables including crushed tomatoes and sauté until onion wilts.
Add vegetables, wine, reserved marrow and meat to stockpot. Simmer in medium low for 30 minutes. Add paprika and drop bay leaves, add salt and pepper and continue simmering for 15 more minutes.
Check the meat cubes; if the meat falls apart the soup is ready. If the meat is still solid, continue simmering until meat starts falling apart.
Garnish with the chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley a few seconds before the soup is served. Serve with fresh crusty bread, like a baguette, for dunking.
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